The first storm in months is expected to bring a significant amount of rain early next week, and its arrival can’t come soon enough for a parched Southern California.
Starting Monday, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties could see more than an inch of rain – the first rain of note in many places since the rain year began in October.
It is to start arriving around 10 a.m. Monday, strengthening throughout the day and linger through Tuesday. Wednesday morning could see scattered showers.
This winter’s weather has followed traditional La Nina conditions, with storms getting deflected to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska where the winter has been wetter than normal.
Because storms have been deflected, the state’s snow pack is low, too.
“We’re finally getting enough energy that a trough of low pressure is able to move through the ridge of high pressure that’s been dominating,” said Derek Schroeter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.
Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles are expected to receive about one and a quarter inches of rain. Riverside and Orange County near greater Huntington Beach should see about an inch. The San Clemente area could see just less than an inch, while the Santa Ana mountains are expected to receive up to two inches, Schroeter said.
The lack of rain since October help fuel Southern California’s historic, destructive wildfire season. And the dry brush was robust – last year’s wet winter had encouraged vegetation growth.
On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board announced its first snow survey results this water year, calling the light snow pack “disappointing.” The snow pack in the Sierra Nevada region plays a critical role in the state’s water infrastructure, providing Southern California with much of its water.
The dry conditions returned not long after a historic drought lingered over California for four years, and Californians were urged to conserve and fined for wasting water. It’s too soon to tell whether this is the beginning of another record-busting drought, or it’s just been drier than normal.
“It’s still too early to speculate if a drought may be declared,” said Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesman for the water board.
There is reason to hope that another drought is not on the way.
“That drought from 2012 to 2016 – some studies have pointed to that drought to be the driest on record,” said Schroeter, the meteorologist. “Usually extremes don’t fall on top of each other like that. … For a wet year to be followed by a dry year is normal.”